Brining is a marinade without the harmful effects of acid. A brine adds flavor and keeps the meat tender and juicy. Here’s a great recipe that combines everything you love about southern food: sweet tea and chicken!
For the Brined Chicken:
4 cups sweetened tea
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 lemon, halved
1 4 1/2- to 5-pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces.
For the Syrup:
2 cups sweetened tea
1/2 cup sugar
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped and gently chopped
For the Coating:
Peanut or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
Make the brine. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups water, the tea and salt until the salt dissolves. Squeeze the lemon halves into the pot then add them and the chicken pieces to the pot, submerge and soak for 2 hours at room temperature.
Make the syrup. In a medium pan over medium heat, combine the tea, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Simmer until reduced and thickened like syrup. Taste and add a pinch of salt. Stir in the thyme.
In a large sheet pan (greased), preheat oven until 325° F. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cayenne, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Drain the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Dust the chicken in the flour and shake off excess. Dip each piece in the egg, then back in the flour to coat. Set on a wire rack to let the coating sink in for 15 minutes.
Lay one inch apart and bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once, depending on the size of the piece. For extra crispy-ness, turn oven up to 450 and bake for additional 5 minutes. Set on a paper towel-lined plate and drizzle syrup on chicken before serving.